Vaccine passport: Business owners react to first day of new bylaw

Calgary’s new bylaw, which brings in mandatory vaccine passports for many types of businesses, came into effect Thursday.

Businesses that do not comply with the bylaw risk being fined $500. 

Without Papers Pizza — a restaurant in the city’s southeast — posted a note on their Instagram late Wednesday that said they will not comply with the bylaw.

“We accept all, may they be vaccinated or unvaccinated, as being equal in their humanity and afforded the same dignity and equity as such,” the post said.

The restaurant’s Instagram post prompted more than 1,500 comments by Thursday evening, many expressing disappointment at the business’s stance, while others congratulated them. 

Failure to comply with the new rules by presenting an immunization record or a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours (or a vaccine medical exemption letter) when entering applicable businesses could result in a $500 fine. Businesses that let in people without the required papers could also be fined.

“We are aware of a small number of businesses who have stated their intent not to comply with the city bylaw,” a City of Calgary spokesperson said in an emailed statement.  

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“We are monitoring compliance of these establishments and our bylaw is clear on the actions we can take. We expect all businesses in-scope to check for either proof of vaccination, a valid medical exemption or a recent negative COVID-19 test.” 

Some people are relieved about the new rules.

“Honestly, I’m very happy about it. I think it’s been a really positive experience here at the studio,” said Marcella Retzlaff, an employee at YYC Cycle Spin Studio in northwest Calgary. 

“Everyone who has come in has been really happy, she said. 

Marcella Retzlaff, an employee at YYC Cycle Spin Studio in northwest Calgary says she’s happy about the new bylaw. (Mike Symington/CBC)

Calgarians react

Calgarian Haithem Dali says as a business patron, he wants to feel comfortable when he goes to a restaurant, and the new bylaw will help him feel safe. 

“Every business right now is worried about their business, they don’t want to shut down anymore … I think it’s the best way right now,” he said. 

“I know a lot people working as servers or cashiers who are getting a lot of flack from customers,” said Jason Droboth, another business patron. 

He thinks there should be more direction for employees on how to check and implement the documentation.

A city spokesperson said they will be working with businesses to educate them so they fully understand the expectations under the bylaw.

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